The Eczema Story
When I was around 7 years old, I started developing a rash. What started off as a small patch on my leg, soon spread throughout my whole body. This is where my eczema story begins.
As all parents would do, they took me to my family doctor to get it under control. The doctor told me I had eczema, also known as Atopic Dermatitis, and there was no cure…great…
The standard protocol is to apply a steroid-based cream to the affected areas. If I got any flare-ups, I applied tacrolimus ointment also known as Protopic.
Eczema sufferers know that it’s the worst at night when the itching kicks in. All I wanted to do was rip my skin off. What do doctors prescribe for that? An antihistamine. Applying the steroid creams and taking antihistamines was my only option. In some extreme cases, even sleeping medications to knock me out so I don’t scratch myself in my sleep.
After changing Doctors, he referred me to a skin specialist at a children’s hospital. Their approach was something similar:
An oil bath 3 times a day to keep my skin moisturized
Apply the steroid creams to the affected areas
Take antihistamines or sleeping medications as needed
I started to develop allergies to all nuts, kiwis, pineapples, shrimp, tomatoes, and dust. I also developed asthma. More medications! You’ll notice that eczema, allergies, and asthma go hand in hand. More on that another time.
At this point, my parents and I wanted to keep it under control and not let it get any worse. Yet, the more I used the steroid creams, the worse my eczema came back.
No doctor told me my body would develop an addiction to steroid creams…wtf?!
Here Comes Topical Steroid Withdrawal
Fast forward to the year 2008 and my eczema story continues.
I could feel my eczema getting worse and no medication was keeping it under control.
My parents and I knew I had to try something other than what western medicine was offering. We found a Homeopathic doctor who said he would be able to help me.
After hearing from many doctors that eczema had no cure, it was a relief to hear that but I was also skeptical.
I was also told to seize all pharmaceuticals I was taking, including the steroid creams…
No one told us what would happen if one day I stopped applying steroid creams after after all these years.
At the time, no one knew that I going through Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW).
The homeopathic doctor didn’t know neither did my family doctor what the hell was going on me with me. I thought homeopathic medicine was to blame for the gruesome side effects of TSW.
After one of the worst 6-8 months of my life, I started getting better. No signs of eczema whatsoever. I did have seasonal allergies and dry skin. But that was a much better trade-off than having eczema, TSW, and having no sleep at all.
Fast forward to 2014 and my eczema started to reappear again. My face became red with constant flare-ups and started developing eczema again.
I wanted to get my eczema under control again and my doctor referred me to another specialist. This specialist didn’t even take the time to take a look at my skin. He wrapped up my appointment within 15 minutes after waiting a couple of hours for him.
What was this Specialist’s plan of action? Take an oil bath 3 times a week, apply a steroid-based cream to my face, body and take Reactine. Sounds familiar right?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
The Eczema Story continues and Topical Steroid Withdrawal Part 2
Come 2016, the steroid cream, Hydroval, which I was using almost on a daily basis, was pretty much ineffective. The minute I stopped it, my face became red again.
I went back to my doctor again to figure out what was going on. It was the same cookie-cutter approach, unfortunately. Creams and pills.
I decided to take my health into my own hands and started researching online. I came across many articles online discussing Topical Steroid Withdrawal/ Red Skin Syndrome.
Everything clicked in my head…
What happened to me in 2008 wasn’t because of Homeopathic medicine nor was I cured because of it. My body went through TSW because of my continued use of steroid creams and then abruptly stopping it.
I then realized I was back to square one…From 2014 to 2016, I was pretty much using Hydroval and Betaderm on a daily basis. I realized I had to go through Topical Steroid Withdrawal once again.
I lost all my faith in doctors and medicine.
After I stopped using my creams right away, my eczema was at its worst again.
I took a medical leave in late 2017 and after going through TSW again, I returned to work in April 2017. But I still wasn’t 100%.
What No One Talks About
Dealing with eczema throughout my life on a daily basis, going through TSW twice, it takes a huge mental toll on you.
But, I never realized how much it affected my mental health.
The eczema lifestyle was my norm. I didn’t know anything else.
I didn’t know what it felt like to be confident in my own skin.
Who knew what it felt like to get a solid 6-8 hours of restful sleep?
Waking up with pain was standard for me. I just put on a mask and slept walk through life.
I had social anxiety but I thought I was a shy introverted kid.
There were so many days I wanted to bail from school, work, family and friends. Almost every day.
I had zero physical and mental energy to do anything.
I never realized I had negative self-talk going on in the background in my head.
If I can get “rid” of my eczema, I wouldn’t “feel” like this.
If I could heal my skin from TSW, I wouldn’t “feel” like this.
What I learned on my healing journey was I was experiencing anxiety and depression.
Healing Through Nutrition
After working with a few Naturopaths, my body was starting to heal. I started to clean up my diet as well as take a handful of supplements to support my body.
But, my eczema story doesn’t end here.
My skin still wasn’t where I wanted it to be. It was still dry, flaky, and irritated. It wasn’t the worst but it wasn’t the best either.
I had a vision for my skin health.
- Sleep in peace without itching
6-8 hours of sleep
Wake up and look myself in the mirror without having any negative self-talk about my skin
Waking up without dry, red, and irritated skin
From 2017 to 2018, I was barely getting by. My skin was okay enough to get back to work, travel, and live the standard 9-5 life
But I was still dealing with eczema behind the scenes. Morning, night, and between.
Dealing with it for the last 20 years of my life was grinding me out. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I knew my mind and body had more healing to do so I experimented by adopting the vegan diet.
It was one of the hardest lifestyle changes I’ve ever made but the most rewarding.
I saw huge improvements in my skin which kicked off my interest in using nutrition to heal.
The one thing I learned is that the treatment, cream, or pill you take is not the difference-maker.
You can’t out supplement a bad diet
You Can Heal
Since 2018, I’ve been on a whole foods plant-based diet, while consuming meats once a week. I take certain supplements like Vitamin C to help maintain and prevent eczema.
Once I started seeing changes in my mind and body, I continued with nutrition full steam.
Compared to other treatments, focusing on my nutrition gave me my confidence back.
I finally felt like I was in control of my life.
My anxiety around sleep was fading away.
Worries about my skin started disappearing.
Going to work, and going out with friends/family started to feel fun again.
I wasn’t in my head 24/7 worrying about what other people were thinking of my skin.
Though I am still healing today, I feel better than ever before.
I hope by sharing my eczema story, it inspires and motivates you to work towards a eczema free life.
Because of everything I’ve gone through with my skin, I decided to dedicate my life to teaching eczema warriors about what eczema is and how to help themselves.
Through my website, social media channels, and 1:1 coaching, my goal is to spread everything I’ve learned and continue to learn so no one has to go through what I went through.
I hope eczema warriors never feel like they need to walk on this journey alone.